Monday, June 18, 2007

Fort Worth ER

It was a dark and stormy night. Lightening flashed ahead as we drove east on Interstate 30; the gentle rain growing more intense with each passing mile. Weatherford was closer to our home, but Fort Worth offered more and larger hospitals, and a well-equipped ER was our top priority last night.

I took my wife's left hand in mine, and gave it a reassuring squeeze. It felt cold, no doubt caused by the swelling in her arm restricting the blood flow down to her fingers. We didn't know if the swelling was from an infection or a leak in her PICC line. It didn't really matter. Her left arm was a full four centimeters larger than the right, and it caused her great pain. Something was not right.

Kara called the two nearest hospitals to check the wait time for Emergency services. Harris Methodist had a very long wait. Baylor All Saints had none.

I turned towards Baylor, and drove straight into a series of raging rivers. Our trusty little pickup sat high above the road, but more than once I had to drive on the left side of the street to keep the engine dry. Had we chosen to drive the Honda, the water would have easily flowed over the hood at several points.

As advertised, the waiting room was nearly empty, and the intake nurse processed Kara's information quickly. It was a long time before anything else happened quickly that night.

Our goal in visiting the the ER was to have Kara's PICC line pulled. I thought it would take about thirty minutes. Kara felt it would take a couple of hours. The elapsed time was actually closer to five hours, and the line didn't get pulled until Kara had been admitted to the hospital.

It turned out that the swelling was caused by neither an infection nor a leak. The problem was blood clots - several of them - and that meant heart monitors, blood thinners, and a fifth floor room with a view of south Fort Worth.

The sun was rising by the time Kara settled in her large, comfortable bed. I unfolded the miniature cot and remade it upside down so the steel crosspiece was under my knees instead of my ribs. Then with both shoulders hanging over the edge of the brown tube frame, I managed to find a couple of hours sleep - despite the changing of the guard outside our room and the repeated flushing of nuclear-powered toilets.

Kara will be in the hospital for at least a couple of days. She is scheduled to get a new PICC line tomorrow or Wednesday. To hold her over until then, I have pureed three zucchini and cooked two quarts of organic brown rice.

Bon apetite!

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